‘Downloading’ could have bigger impact on city finances than expected

News source from CTV News

A troubling new report from the City of London treasurer adds millions of dollars to the estimated impact of recent downloading by the provincial government.

While an initial report estimated the impacts at $3-$4 million a year, that estimate has grown to $4 million in 2019 and $6.6 million a year in 2020 and beyond.

City Councillor Josh Morgan, who will chair upcoming multi-year budget deliberations, says, “That’s a significant amount of money. These are early estimates, but that is what our staff are looking at as the potential impact. That is not an assessment of all of the items, just the ones known at this time.”

The updated figures are based on a more detailed analysis and the latest information from the province.

They include; more than $2 million a year in child care cost sharing changes, $400,000 this year and $1.2 million next year for funding changes to the health unit, and $600,000 annually for changes to policing grants.

While the province denies the costs are the result of ‘downloading,’ Morgan says, “I think we can use semantics, and call it whatever we want, but what we have is changes made by the province expected to cost municipalities money, so I think that’s downloading to me.”

A special meeting will be held by council to look at municipal services that could be eliminated, while service reviews are already examining possible changes to golf courses, service fees and housing.

A change in the average annual tax increase target, currently set at 2.7 per cent annually, is also possible.

The Corporate Services Committee will discuss the updated budget impacts at its meeting on Tuesday.

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